I can’t stop thinking about this…

4 Nov

 

 

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I was saddened to hear the news of Brittany Maynard’s passing over the weekend. In case you haven’t heard about her story, she is the woman who recently become the face of the death with dignity movement after being diagnosed with a glioblastoma, an aggressive form of terminal brain cancer. Her story really struck a chord with me, not only because we were close in age and both newlyweds but also because two people in my family who I loved very much passed away from the same form of brain cancer and let me tell you, it is a horrible way to die.

While I know that the ‘death with dignity’ act, which advocates that terminally ill patients be allowed to receive medication that will let them die on their own terms is controversial and not the kind of topic I normally discuss on my blog, I still felt compelled to share about it. I feel strongly that people have the right to make this decision for themselves when faced with such a bleak sentence. I don’t think of it as suicide. I think Brittany summed it up perfectly…”They try to mix it up with suicide and that’s really unfair, because there’s not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying.”

I can’t even imagine having to make that choice but I also can’t imagine spending my last few months on earth withering away in pain. I think her choice was incredibly brave. After following her story this past month I of course knew how it would end but I was still upset when I found out that she had passed and was surprised to find myself crying. It felt funny to cry about the loss of someone I’ve never even met. But something about her story cracked my heart wide open. It reminded me how fragile life is. I was overcome with gratitude that I got another day. Another day to laugh. Another day to cry. Another day to experience it all, to have my heart cracked wide open all over again.

This was the statement that she released shortly before her passing…

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more,” she wrote on Facebook. “The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

I loved the last two lines…spread good energy. Pay it forward 

*

Did you guys follow along with this story the past month? Would love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

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13 Responses to “I can’t stop thinking about this…”

  1. Maria November 4, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    I have been following her story, as well. There is so much about it that is devastating. The fact that she was so young and so sick, the fact that we can’t find cures for all of these forms of cancer, and the fact that her decision should be anyone else’s business besides her, her family and her doctors. She actually moved from her home to a state that already had the dying with dignity act already in place and legal. Her whole family moved with her just so she could end her life in her terms.
    It’s beyond brave. I know there are many people who might not find it night because of their religion but she was so passionate about the fact that she didn’t want to die or commit suicide but she was dying just the same. It made me cry to read her words.
    In April I lost my cousin, who I was also very good friends with, to breast cancer that turned into lung cancer. While the cancers are different, I watched her struggle for 4 years and I also watched her live as best she could. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but especially not young women. My cousin turned 39 on April 6th and passed away on April 9th.
    I admire this story and believe if I had no options I would do the same. I would not want to deal with all the pain but I also would not want my children, my husband, my family or my friends to watch me suffer.

    • kate365til November 4, 2014 at 8:26 am #

      Maria, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. You always comment thoughtfully, though and I appreciate that. I am so sorry for the loss of your cousin. That must have been so difficult to watch. I’m sure she was very brave in her fight. Sending love. xx

  2. erin haslag (@erinhaslag) November 4, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    Beautiful thoughts and response. It is an emotional story to follow and one that many of us can connect to without even knowing her on a personal level. There’s a beauty and honor in her ability to consciously make the decision to end her life on the note of her choice.

    • kate365til November 4, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

      I couldn’t agree more…”there is a beauty and honor in the ability to consciously make the decision to end her life on the note of her choice”

  3. barbarapotter November 4, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    Yes I have followed and I agree completely with her. I think she was very brave.

  4. righteousbruin9 November 4, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    I followed her story, in the last weeks. It hit home, and loudly. In January, 2011, my wife was given the option of being getting a tracheotomy and being put on a breathing machine- basically to live out her days stationary and as a waking robot. She made the decision to decline this, with the full support of our son and me. Her last five weeks were spent bed-ridden, but most of that was at home, and she was able to speak her mind, get a shower with my help or that of the day nurse and eat regular meals.
    Ms. Maynard’s decision was between her and her family, just like Penny’s was. This was nature running its course, and Brittany’s spirit is now at peace.

    • kate365til November 4, 2014 at 9:29 am #

      Gary, I teared up reading this. That must have been such a difficult time for you and your family. I can’t even comprehend what you went through in 2011. I agree that a decision like that is between the person, their family and doctor. Penny was so lucky to have such a loving and supportive husband and partner. Your love story inspires me. Thank you for sharing. Sending love

  5. Shauna841505 November 4, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    This is so sad. I have followed her story as well, and along with I’m sure the rest of the nation, I was hoping for some random miracle that would save this woman. As unrealistic as that was, I just found it so hard to watch her videos and not cry. How can someone be so brave in the face of death. At such a young age with a whole life ahead of her? It was horrible, and I wish that upon no one. 😦

  6. amelie88 November 4, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    This was such a heartbreaking story. I did a project in high school on assisted suicide–I guess now being called Death With Dignity? This was back around 2002-2003 so I’m glad they came up with something else to take away the stigma the word “suicide” is associated with. I’m not sure if I fully support it but then I’ve never had a terminal illness nor have I had to watch someone close to me decline in front of my eyes that way (though I kind of consider that to be the case with my grandmother who wasted away with dementia for many, many years but that was a slow decline over a period of many years. But by the time hospice care had taken over, I think seeing her like she was moaning in pain and completely out of it is probably similar to watching someone with a terminal illness die).

    This woman clearly had no options left, modern medicine wasn’t going to cure her so she did what she thought was best. However I wonder what kind of people qualify for death with dignity. Would dementia be considered at all? I have a feeling a lot of people would choose that route if they could avoid being a burden to family as they slowly lose their minds. It does bring into question who can qualify and who can’t. It’s such an emotional and personal decision but I’m glad Brittany is no longer suffering.

    • kate365til November 4, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

      I am so sorry that you had to watch your grandmother decline like that. That must have been so incredibly difficult. I am grateful that you shared your story- you bring up so many interesting/difficult points about the issue. I am not sure if dementia would qualify…I will most definitely be looking into that. The whole issue is a gray area and a very heated one. Thank you again for sharing, sweet pea. I am so grateful! xx

  7. cravesadventure November 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    I have been following and she is BRAVE in making the choice she made! I have known a few people who had terminable brain cancer and their quality of life as the cancer progresses was difficult and painful; one person passed after years of fighting the good fight as long as possible and one had brain surgery and did not improve her life and did not go well at all. I think about myself having to make a decision of that magnitude and then I think about my family having to make that decision – that is a toughie. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Mark November 4, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    I often read your blog with a smile at your humorous observations and insights into life. Today you have touched my heart..

  9. Jen November 7, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    Such a beautifully written post. So true…opens our hearts to see the value of each and every day. Xo

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